y wife and I used to eat at a restaurant “out south” whose name I won’t mention for fear of a lawsuit, or worse, that you’ll think I’m 107 years old.

I figure 100 years is the average age of customers who enjoy the comfort food, subdued lighting, quiet atmosphere and the fact that, only at this restaurant, can you keel over dead during dinner and no one notices.

On average, I suspect that two or three people expire there every week, falling headfirst into their squash-and-rice casserole.

In fact, when this landmark hires bus boys, it asks that applicants “be able to deal discretely with death from natural causes — and lift 75 pounds.”

The food is actually quite good — my favorites are the fried chicken, lightly breaded zucchini and cinnamon rolls — and it’s probably why we’ve eaten there for 20 years.

We always say something tacky about “going to eat with the old people,” but really, who are we kidding? The place sucks you in, becomes a habit and before you know it, boom, you’re 107 years old, keeling over and being carried off by a bus boy.

Before we move on to why this geriatric haven would be selling energy drinks at the cash register, there’s something else to settle.

Have you ever wondered why people say “out south” rather than “down south” when they’re heading for Johnson County? It would make sense to say “I’m going up north” to the airport. Who would say “I’m going out north?”

“Out” is a directionally neutral term that can refer to anything (for example, “outside,” “out of town,” “outer space”). But not “up” and “down,” which parallel what you see, south-wise and north-wise, on a map.

Even “out West” makes more sense because it’s neither up nor down, but left. (Admittedly, you would also get funny looks if you said “we’re taking the RV left west this summer.”)

Being concerned with issues of this magnitude, you can see why marketing energy drinks to people with bad hearts and poor memories would baffle me. It might even qualify for Sports Illustrated’s “Signs that the Apocalypse is Upon Us Now” if eating creamed corn happens to become an Olympic sport.

You could make the case that people of advanced age have a genuine need for energy, even the artificial kind. But at what point do we admit that, energy-wise, the well’s already gone dry? Could this marketing strategy mean that the energy-drink craze has come full circle?

You have to figure senior citizens are the last untapped market for these drinks. If teenagers and 20-somethings think they need to drink something to feel energetic, we’re already in serious trouble.

And selling these drinks at a restaurant populated by seniors makes as much sense as hawking nursing home insurance to high school freshmen.

I don’t know about you, but I’d think a revved up 85-year-old would not only be unseemly, but downright dangerous. Walkers just aren’t designed to go that fast. And, glucosamine and chondroitin can only do so much.

And who’d want to be around when some oldster pops a Viagra, chugs two cans of Red Bull and goes cruising?

It’s nothing anyone with any common sense would want to see.

David Knopf, managing editor of the Excelsior Springs Standard, has written columns for publications in Oklahoma and Missouri since 1985, and currently writes them for The Kansas City Star’s 816 section. You can contact him at david@esstandard.com

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